Blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, have been associated with certain occupational exposures and risks. Understanding these associations can help in identifying potential workplace hazards and implementing preventive measures. Here are some occupational risks commonly linked to blood cancers:

1. Benzene Exposure

  • Industry: Benzene, a chemical used in manufacturing processes, is strongly linked to the development of leukemia, particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
  • Occupations at Risk: Workers in industries such as petrochemicals, rubber manufacturing, shoe manufacturing, and gasoline-related occupations may be exposed to benzene through inhalation or skin contact.

2. Radiation Exposure

  • Radiation Workers: Individuals exposed to ionizing radiation, such as nuclear industry workers, radiologists, and radiologic technologists, have an increased risk of developing leukemia, particularly chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
  • Healthcare Workers: Radiation exposure from diagnostic procedures and treatments can also pose a risk, though typically at lower levels.

3. Pesticide and Herbicide Exposure

  • Agricultural Workers: Exposure to certain pesticides and herbicides, such as glyphosate (found in herbicides like Roundup), has been associated with an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
  • Farmers and Gardeners: Those involved in agriculture and landscaping may face higher exposure levels.

4. Solvent Exposure

  • Chemical Industry Workers: Exposure to certain solvents, such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and formaldehyde, has been linked to an increased risk of developing lymphomas.
  • Manufacturing and Cleaning: Workers in industries involving paint thinners, adhesives, and cleaning products may be exposed to these solvents.

5. Electromagnetic Fields

  • Electrical Workers: There is some evidence suggesting a potential association between exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from high-voltage power lines and an increased risk of leukemia.
  • Healthcare and Research Facilities: Workers in MRI facilities and laboratories may also encounter EMFs, although the risks are still under study.

6. Viral and Infectious Agents

  • Healthcare Workers: Occupational exposure to certain viruses, such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which is associated with Hodgkin lymphoma, can occur in healthcare settings.
  • Animal Handlers: Zoonotic infections from animals (e.g., certain viruses and bacteria) may pose risks to veterinary workers and researchers.

Preventive Measures

  • Engineering Controls: Implementing engineering controls, such as ventilation systems and enclosed work processes, to reduce airborne chemical exposures.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Proper use of PPE, including gloves, respirators, and protective clothing, to minimize skin contact and inhalation of hazardous substances.
  • Workplace Policies: Developing and enforcing workplace safety policies, training programs, and regular monitoring of exposure levels.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to occupational health and safety regulations and standards set by governmental agencies to mitigate risks.


Identifying and mitigating occupational risks associated with blood cancers is crucial for protecting workers’ health. Employers, occupational health professionals, and workers themselves play essential roles in recognizing potential hazards, implementing preventive measures, and promoting a safe work environment. Continued research and awareness are necessary to further understand these associations and improve workplace safety practices effectively.

By Sue